The COVID-19 crisis would have affected the already delayed development schedule for the 777X, the world’s largest twin-engine jet. According to Reuters sources, Boeing is about to announce that the aircraft is expected to enter service within one year of the current plan in 2021.
The pandemic and the consequent drop in demand for passenger air traffic, especially long-haul, would have been the causes of the postponement of the aircraft’s debut. Without passengers, airlines have used smaller planes and anticipated the retirement of four-engine aircraft like the 747, A340 and A380. Part of these aircraft could be replaced by the 777X, but it is now estimated that there will be no use for such large planes anytime soon.
So far, Boeing continues to report that the models 777-8 (up to 384 seats) and 777-9 (up to 406 seats) have 309 firm orders and that it intends to obtain the second type certification in 2021. Lufthansa will be the first airline to operate it, followed by Emirates Airline. While the German company has the jet already next year, the carrier in the Middle East acknowledged that the aircraft should only enter service in 2022.
However, other customers are negotiating the postponement in their deliveries as is the case with Cathay Pacific, which has 21 orders for the 777-9. Boeing denied any changes to the schedule, but one of the Reuters sources revealed that the planemaker is expected to confirm the delay next week during the announcement of its 2020 second quarter results.